Types of Powers of Attorney

A general power of attorney is an instrument which gives the person you name (the agent) wide powers to manage your property and financial matters while you are living. The person granting the agent the power is called the principal, and must be signed while mentally competent to understand the nature of the act.

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A limited power of attorney grants the agent authority to act in only specified matters or for a particular purpose, such as to sell a home for the principal. It may also be called a special power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney remains enforceable even if you become incapacitated and unable to deal with your own financial affairs. If you don’t state that you want your power of attorney to be effective despite your incapacity (durable), it will become void if you later become mentally incapacitated or otherwise incompetent.

A statutory power of attorney is a power of attorney that copies the language in a state statute. The language varies by state, and a statutory form of power of attorney should comply with the state law where it will be used.

A springing power of attorney is a power of attorney that takes effect upon the happening of a specified event, date, or condition.

Some other types of powers of attorney include: health care power of attorney (also called a medical power of attorney or advance health care directive), financial power of attorney for banking matters, power of attorney for care and custody of children, power of attorney for the sale of real property, and power of attorney for the sale of an automobile or other vehicle.

A health care power of attorney (medical power of attorney) is a highly recommended legal document. It allows you to record your personal preferences and appoint another person to make health care decisions for you if you are mentally incompetent to make decisions for yourself. In other words, it names someone who speaks for you and expresses your medical treatment preferences to the doctors, such as whether to provide life-sustaining treatment if you’re permanently unconscious. A person doesn’t need to be terminally ill, elderly, or engaging in dangerous activities to create a health care power of attorney.